Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In this Wise


Every once in a while I totally geek out in the scriptures and find myself focusing something that appears at first glance to be unimportant, but which I can’t help but become curious about and research.  This is probably one of those posts, so if you want to come with me down my little rabbit-hole, you’re perfectly welcome, but otherwise, don’t feel obligated.  I did eventually draw a little lesson from it, for those of you who want to continue reading, so maybe it will benefit you as it did me.

Okay, disclaimers out of the way.. on we go, fellow scripture geeks! (waving sword above head)

Here’s the verse I looked at, which is from the beginning of King Limhi’s speech to his people after the arrival of Ammon.  I noticed that Mormon introduced the speech in a very interesting way.

And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made. (Mosiah 7:18, emphasis added)

I am fascinated by “in this wise”!  It implies to me “in this way,” and makes me think that the speech put in was not necessarily a direct quotation of Limhi but a synthesis and summary of his main points and direction of thought.  If Limhi had been an elaborate speaker, that could account for Mormon’s desire to hurry it up a bit.

I went online and looked for synonymous expressions of “in this wise” and found the following:
Thus
And so forth
And so on
Even so
In such a manner
In such wise
In this degree
In this way
To this extent

..which confirms my supposition that it was the Reader’s Digest condensed version.  It might be interesting if a statistical word print was done on Limhi’s speech to see if it matched Mormon’s or not.

When you go back and read what we have of Limhi’s speech, you realize it covers a ton of ground.
  1. Salvation is near; be happy
  2. Trust God who delivered our fathers
  3. We’re in bondage because of wickedness
  4. The Lamanites planned to bring us into bondage
  5. We have great reason to mourn: 1) tax 2) bondage 3) death 4) sin 5) killing a prophet 6) contention
  6. A prophet told the people about Christ and to repent
  7. Christ would be a man
  8. The prophet was killed
  9. The Lord doesn’t save wicked people
  10. Turn to God, trust Him, serve Him, and we’ll be delivered.
All in all, it is about how the people are about to be delivered.  It says, “Look, we’re in a bad place right now, we did these bad things, but if we will repent and trust the Lord and keep His commandments, things can get better from here.”  It’s a great one for members who have turned away from the Lord for whatever reason and are feeling stuck or enslaved.   I can remember using it that way a few times myself when I felt oppressed by oodles of schoolwork and had let my efforts to serve the Lord flag a little.  It inspired me to get back on the stick and begin again to do all I could do.

Okay, so what can we learn from this little detail showing Mormon collapsed Limhi’s speech with “in this wise”?  I think it shows how anxious Mormon was to use the plates to the best advantage and give his readers the best of spiritual things.  It demonstrates a certain economy of transmission—that there is no point in saying more if just enough will do.  That is a great concept we tend to forget.  If we can write unlimited-length blog posts with no cost for the length that doesn’t mean we should.

Sometimes I have worried that my blog posts are too short and that they don’t give enough.  Yet if Mormon saw fit to compress Limhi’s speech to the essentials, I suppose I need not be ashamed of a blog post stripped to the essentials. 


I find it rather funny that this blog post started with examination into something that seemed nonessential and turned into a reflection on transmitting the best of spiritual things.  Does that mean this blog post preaches against its own existence?  :-B

You decide.